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How to Stress-Test Graphics Cards (Like We Do)

Unigine Valley & Unigine Superposition

Unigine Valley

Unigine Valley’s power consumption might be a bit lower than The Witcher 3’s or Sky Diver’s, but it can be run in an endless loop without having to buy a licensed version. Consequently, this older benchmark still makes for a good cooling and stability test. We also like that it runs on older hardware without a problem.

The load that Unigine Valley produces can be optimized by selecting its maximum settings and choosing the right resolution to keep the frame rate above 25 FPS.

Even though this test's CPU load is fairly low and DirectX 11 is no longer cutting-edge, Valley still throws errors if your overclock isn't stable. This test remains relevant by being available for free. Download Unigine Valley here.

Measurement62 °C81.9 °C77.6 °C63.0 °C97.7W
Compared to Maximum95.4%90.9%91.8%86.7%94.2%
Assessment- Medium power consumption- Medium GPU temperature for cooling tests- Sufficient package temperature for stability tests- Medium memory temperature
Use for- Serviceable stability test primarily for older or lower-end hardware- Endless loop included for free

Unigine Superposition

Superposition is supposed to improve on its predecessors’ performance as a stress and stability test for high-end hardware. According to what we've found, though, it doesn't always succeed. Compared to our previous tests, peak power consumption and temperatures end up in the lower-middle of the field. Another issue is that Superposition doesn't prove to be reliable enough as a benchmark; the results of back-to-back runs vary too much. Download Unigine Superposition here.

We do like that Unigine Superposition can be run in an endless loop, though. And with some patience, it’s possible to optimize the settings to create a reasonably high load. Certain memory errors are more likely to occur using Superposition than the Valley benchmark, so Unigine's newer test can be used as a supplement in your library, if nothing else.

Another advantage is the high clock rates this benchmark allows cards to run at, which exceed those seen in The Witcher 3. A lower load does have its (unintended) uses after all.

Measurement61 °C82.4 °C74.8 °C61.9 °C93.6W
Compared to Maximum93.8%91.5%88.5%85.1%90.3%
Assessment- Somewhat low power consumption- Comparatively low GPU temperature for cooling tests- Sufficient package temperature for stability tests- Comparatively low memory temperature
Use for- Supplemental stability test for overclocking (using loop)

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  • phobicsq
    Doesn't hwmonitor cost money?
  • FormatC
    HWiNFO is free :)
  • Th_Redman
    Great article of information Igor(and Tom's, of course). I use a number of these stress tests and your article listed some I've never heard of or read about, so thank you.
  • Jay E
    But did you eat the egg?
  • Unolocogringo
    Very nice article to point newbie overclockers towards. You have to have some basic understanding if you want to overclock successfully.
    I have overclocked everything possible since my first overclock.A pentium 75mhz I overclocked to 90mhz. This was mid to late 1996. I learned how to do it from This site. Toms Hardware ( back then).
    Since I overclock every thing to stable 100% load 24/7/365 for Folding@Home and occasional gaming, It must be 100% stable for correct folding results. And of course gaming with my son and grandson.
    I use most of the tests and tools you do, except for the fancy thermal images, to achieve this. Nice to know my testing methods are the Same as yours, but mine last 36 to 48 hours on final overclock settings before being put into service.

    Overclocking is a serious affliction , even my non overclockable SuperMicro 2p server board is overclocked from 2.5 to 3.0 on all 8 cores and folding away for years. :)
    Enjoyed your article and testing methodology explained. Thanks
  • ddferrari
    For my uses (gaming, surfing) I see no reason to push a component to its power or thermal limit via synthetic tests. All that does is shorten its life span. I don't care if my OC fails during a multiple hour, unrealistic load. If it runs fine during real-world usage then I'm satisfied.

    All my components are overclocked, and I test them for stability the old fashioned way: I USE them. They key is to overclock only one component at a time and see if problems arise while gaming. I keep bumping up the OC until an issue pops up- then I know where the maximum lies.

    There seems to be a lot of monkey-see-monkey-do going on around the internet these days.
  • stonedwookie
    We dont care about the stats what we want to know is did the eggs taste good?
    what would you rate the eggs ?
  • FormatC
    The egg got only three-stars rating (3/5).

    The reason why:
    It was simply too long for my taste and it is a real pain to look over such a long time at this egg if you are hungry :P
  • Co BIY
    What is the best thermal paste to use for a mining rig omelet pan?
  • FormatC
    Olive Oil. The best taste :)